Trump and the White Working Class

Painting by Édouard Manet

In November 2015 two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton (a Nobel Prize winner), released a revealing study, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among whitenon-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” It was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The economists’ findings were scary: “Over the 15-y[ear] period, midlife all-cause mortality fell by more than 200 per 100,000 for black non-Hispanics, and by more than 60 per 100,000 for Hispanics. By contrast, white non-Hispanic mortality rose by 34 per 100,000.”

In one of their few non-technical digressions, the scholars acknowledge: “After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents.  Growth in real median earnings has been slow for this group, especially those with only a high school education.”

In a 2017 follow-up, Case and Deaton published a revealing, if scarier, study, “Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century.” Their findings are alarming:

We find that mortality and morbidity among white non-Hispanic [WNH] Americans in midlife since the turn of the century continued to climb through 2015. Additional increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related liver mortality — particularly among those with a high school degree or less — are…

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